Germans in the UK – Steffi‘s answers
Germans in the UK is a series in which some of my German friends and contacts tell us about their experience of living and working in the UK.
I decided to start the series because a number of my customers want to know about life in the UK. Some of them want to live here. Whilst I can talk about some differences that I’ve noticed, I’m English, I’ve always lived here and I can’t comment on what it’s like to move to another country.
Therefore I decided to ask some people who can give a first-hand report on moving to the UK from Germany.
1.How long have you been living in the UK?
I have been living in the UK since November 2014.
2. What are two important things that you did in terms of preparation before you left Germany?
First I had to cancel the contract on my flat and sell all my furniture and belongings, since it was very expensive to bring it over to England.
The hardest part was sorting out the transport for my two cats, because the requirements of the British government are quite difficult. You can’t just take pets on the plane and you have to use special routes and transport companies. Figuring that out was very difficult and it cost me a couple of nights sleep. Leaving my cats behind was no option for me.
3. How did you go about finding somewhere to live?
The reason why I came to England was indeed very romantic. I met my English fiancée in a hostel bar in Amsterdam in March 2014, only half a year before I moved to England. Since I am a freelance writer and editor I could just work anywhere in the world. So I decided very spontaneously to sell all my things and move from busy Berlin to a tiny village in Yorkshire, where my boyfriend managed to find a beautiful spot for us to live.
4. How did you go about making new friends and meeting new people when you got here?
I researched a lot on the internet, trying to find new social contacts. Working from home makes it more difficult to meet people, because I haven’t got any colleagues I can go out with. And I found this amazing App called Meetup, where local groups of the same interest meet and do things together. So I joined the group and found very good friends.
5. What would you say is different here in terms of applying for jobs. Is there anything that surprised you?
I can’t really tell, because I am self-employed and simply took my job with me, but I can say that it is much easier to work as a freelancer here, because for the first time I really understand the tax system, which is a catastrophe in Germany. It is very transparent and clear.
6. Do you know any good websites, books or other resources for people who want to improve their English?:
I tried different things to improve my English, which was very rudimentary when I got here. The things that helped me most are watching a lot of BBC series and documentaries and starting to read novels in English. Also I use my boyfriend as a walking dictionary and just ask as much as I can. I also joined international language groups on the Meetup app that I have already mentioned.
7. What or who has helped you most in terms of developing your language skills?
I think that must have been Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones really, and my new English family of course, who is very social and chatty and makes me speak and listen whether I want to or not. Also I like to be independent and sort out as much as I can myself and just ask people if I don’t know words or expressions.
8. Have you noticed any big differences in terms of how people do business, what happens in business meetings or how colleagues relate to one another here?
I got the impression that colleagues in England are much more social with each other even after work. They don’t necessarily go straight home, but enjoy some pints together after business is closed. They even turn up at wedding receptions. I once attended a business meeting as an interpreter and I found the atmosphere much more casual and private than in Germany. We talked a lot about family, holiday destinations and private things.
9. Is there anything that you wish someone had told you about life in the UK or anything that took time to get used to?
I must admit that I am after all very surprised in a positive way. There is nothing really that I couldn’t get used to, even the rain. Maybe apart from this typical English attitude of being sorry for everything. That disturbed me a bit to begin with. Oh and the business of driving on the left side of the road. But these are all things I knew before. For me life feels simply much easier here, not at all so serious.
10. What food or drinks do you miss most? What are the first things that you buy when you go back to Germany?
Definitely crusty dark bread and proper sausages!
More from Steffi
Further articles in this series
If you would like to answer these questions as well or to view the other articles in this series, go to the main Germans in the UK page.
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